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Re: [xmca] Interpreting Leontiev: functionalism and Anglo Finnish Insufficiences


The "functionalism" theme, the accusation that Leontiev was a functionalist, was in Leontyev's idea of an "objective motive", that is, your labour has an "objective motive", i.e., a function, (as I read it therefore) a part of the social mechanism by which the 5-year plan is fulfilled under the direction of the administrators of the nation, the group who decides what society needs and how it wil be met. The "Marxist" variety of functionalism as a social theory is exhibited every time a Marxist tells you what some social phenomenon is *for*. The mass media are for defending capitalism, sports are for distracting the masses from politics, parliament is for giving the illusion of democracy and so on. In the US, functionalism was contained in the vision of a society as a self-regulating mechanism, in which each occupation, institution, etc., played a role like the organs in an animal, etc. That's how I see functionalism, anyway.


christine schweighart wrote:
Dear Andy,

That was very provocative! I empathise with the 'ethos' in your biography biography – mine shares something somewhat but 'accidental' intellectually. I spent many years amongst those that spent their youth overcoming the Franco regime. Spent years 'mutually influencing' in a very poor village marginalised for being 'united left - IE' - this affects funds and projects, one aspect I could believe could be identified as reflexivity in looking at this time living there - that is developing a way of relating that embodies a 'concept' which enables a transformative qualitative difference in form of living ( in this case 'measured' by incorporation of ecological values and poetry/artistic creation (and consumption) by and within the village – happened over 10 or 15 years ... for sure 'positive law' legislative changes take a long time. From the 'fight' you epitomise to the everyday living difference sought. But am I right to depict the story that way round - was it the intellectuals who became activists and gave up all- or was it that without the invitation of 'people of the countryside’ ( and in the country those that showed me how to be neighbours most proximal to my house were in fact 'illiterate' - yet they helped bring up my first son - who still remembers the gestures and values.) would ‘reflexivity’ be realized.

Provocative because I've no idea what you mean by 'systems theory' and I mention this in an earlier post :))) - I can only say I identify in the acquisition of principles of intervention/ practice - I find those of ‘CHAT – also a family of diversity- activity theory - but the 'pattern' of acquisition is 'mutual influencing' ish as from my reading oft Mike's last joint article was different ( other times too). I guess the central concept is 'transformation'. so I don't 'get' objectification of 'social theory', I’m ‘out’ on what that might be quite. it's dynamic open and that's the big problem - no? losing 'dynamic thought' in objectification. Though who is assuming that all are influenced by ‘social theory’ . I still visit my neighbours who don’t read or write, I still am included by neighbours from my hometown ( 1953 council estate) . I also still have relations with some from my academic ‘tribe’ – how I got there was by interview for an MSc– they had to go check that my qualifications did actually ‘count’ to be able to join in J)).

I really liked David's recent post

"""that is, for understanding how the social becomes psychological, for recognition, for identity, for the forging of something that can reasonably called a free willed self, the mediating entity we want is really the community.

On the face of it, there doesn't appear to be any historical period where there was not a community of some kind. Except maybe our own." ( this expresses the otion of autopoiesis David - only Maturana's very convoluted explication was we don't have 'access' to our own embodied actuality - we are inherently 'observers' in a relational historically forming domain which we structurally couple to- i.e influence /but not causally either direction. A primary to this concept is life - not evolution. Except I turn to the question of 'will' which isn't artistic enough for me a 'free loved self' ? or creative self? Phychology of art seemed to me (only skimming) to be about aesthetic consumption - not the sensual production of artistic gesture. Mediating - but not 'entity' because community is always flowing along, in an out, people come and go and there is multiplicity of community. Also David's earlier comment about the boundary of the word - where I would pull in 'being in relation to gesture' ( always unspoken?).

Anyway I'm as 'peripheral'/ ambiguous / with and without recognition in written voice in the 'systems tribe' nearly as in this - so I like your expression of principle of 'not making matters worse' a lot. BTW I didn't mean Ulrich Beck, risk is in his work and in ecology being objectified - the relation is to uncertainty what 'to do when there is no notion of 'risk' to hang on to. I made a reference to Ullrich and I'm not at all in the camp of cybernetics i don't think - but the special issue which hosts the paper for discussion has a review of a book on that by Tony (and I'll read that - he was discussing Freire before his illness)
 it was Werner Ullrich - who I've not read either. I have a feeling this might  be a question of 'responsibility to those less advantaged' and I nearly always find that difficult because the categorisation interpellates 'no change'.
BTW - I've lost the functionalism theme , leontiev - but have maybe exposed 'anglo ' insufficiencies via biography:). I didn't used to react to provocation half so 'profusely'..must have had some 'coaching' somewhere.....
 Cheers Andy.

*Andy Blunden*
Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857

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